Don’t all iron beds have the same size tubing? Absolutely not. The stability and rigidity of a bed is determined by the size of tubing the manufacturer used back in the 1800’s when they were the most popular beds being made.
So why would a foundry use small tubing on their beds? Simple..cost. It was cheaper to use 3/8″ solid rod across the top of the design on a head and footboard, than it was to use the larger more rigid 1″ thick wall steel tubing. The thinner gauge beds were used for a number of different home applications…….a child’s room, guest room etc. Rarely did a person want a bed that was going to get a lot of use to be thinner gauge . The reason being is the amount of “flex” a headboard has when leaned against to read in bed or watch TV. That usually isn’t an important issue for an bed that is either getting limited use in a guest bedroom or in a child’s room where the bed is merely for sleeping and nothing else.
The main criteria we have when selecting a metal bed to be converted to a wider king size, is that it must have at least 1″ thick wall tubing. If a bed starts out with good rigidity and strength, additional tubing can be welded into the width and it will still be solid and strong. But if a thinner gauge bed is cut apart and pieces added to the width, the degree of flex it has is exacerbated by the addition rods that are welded in.
I’ve actually converted thin gauge beds to king size…… with the understanding that there would be flex in the headboard. This didn’t matter to the client.They just wanted a beautiful bed for the “look”, not the practicality. One of the most photographed beds I’ve converted to king size was for an extremely good decorator and his actress client who knew exactly the look they wanted. They also told me that the bed was not for watching TV or reading in bed. So “flex” for them was not an issue.
Strength an rigidity of an bed depend on the tubing size. Keep that in mind when shopping for a antique iron beds.